Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is expected to unveil next-generation iPhones at an event early next month. Although quite a lot has been leaked about these new devices, there's still plenty about them that we won't know for certain until Apple actually launches them.
That being said, pre-launch rumors are interesting, and I believe it's worthwhile to try to sniff out whether a particular leak is legitimate or just a cleverly done fake designed to grab attention. To that end, I'd like to look at a recent leak via Tencent Digital to see if it makes sense.
The leak shows a number of things: results of a common mobile processor performance test known as Geekbench 3, a new display feature, and the naming of the device. Let's dig into each of these separately.
Geekbench 3 score
Whenever Apple launches a new iPhone, it likes to highlight the performance improvements that it has brought to the table relative to the prior-generation phone. The two main comparisons that Apple makes are in CPU performance. (This impacts how fast the phone runs most non-gaming/3D graphics-intensive applications.)
The leak doesn't tell us about what enhancements to graphics Apple may have made with the A10 chip, but it does -- if it's legitimate -- tell us what advancements Apple has made on the CPU side of things. Per the leak, the next-generation iPhone achieves a 3,042 single-core score and a 5,210 multi-core score in Geekbench 3. I ran the test on my iPhone 6s Plus (powered by a Samsung (NASDAQOTH:SSNLF)-built A9 chip), and my device achieved a single-core score of 2,523 and a multi-core score of 4,358.
If the leak is representative of the A10's final performance, then we're looking at a per-core performance improvement of nearly 21% and a dual-core performance improvement of 20%.
Given that the A10 won't have the benefit of an enhanced manufacturing technology, which means that all of the improvements are coming from design/architectural work on Apple's part, 20% improvement is impressive, but not out of the realm of possibility. So, at the very least, I believe this portion of the leak is legitimate.
New display feature
An image that was part of the same leak showed that the new iPhone offers the user the option to enable a "true tone" display. This was a feature that first made its debut on the 9.7-inch iPad Pro that launched back in March. This feature, according to Apple, "uses advanced four-channel ambient light sensors to automatically adapt the color and intensity of the display to match the light in your environment."
Speaking from personal experience, this feature is really quite nice, and actually makes the transition from using my iPad Pro to my iPhone 6s a little difficult. I'd be shocked if Apple omitted this feature from a next-generation iPhone, so this portion of the leak checks out for me.
A strange name
The leak also shows that the Geekbench 3 test identifies the phone not as the iPhone 7, but instead, as the iPhone 6 SE. I've already written about why such branding would be nothing short of a terrible marketing decision, and I stand by that belief.
The last thing that Apple needs to do with this new iPhone -- the device that's going to be the company's best shot at putting its iPhone business back on a growth path -- is to give consumers the impression that the new device is merely a modest, incremental update to the current-generation devices.
It's not clear to me why the Geekbench 3 benchmark identifies the device as the iPhone 6 SE, but I would be stunned if this were the official marketing name for this device.